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The TTC's Leased Utah GMs

Text by Brad O’Brien
Revised by James Bow

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In 1997, the TTC had reached the bottom of its period of declining and ridership was rising again. The increased crowds coincided with the retirement of a number of aging buses, and teething problems with the new Compressed Natural Gas buses, resulting in a serious bus shortage. With capital funding limited, the TTC looked to a number of other transit agencies to lease buses to carry passengers in the short term.

One transit agency they looked at was the Utah Transit Authority, which operated public transit in Salt Lake City. The UTA had thirty GM New Look buses, built in 1981, available for lease. These were in good enough condition that the TTC agreed to lease these vehicles, and they arrived on TTC property in September 1997. The buses were numbered 1002 to 1036 and had TTC logos applied, but they retained most of their original colour scheme. This made them immediately noticeable among other TTC equipment.

The Utah GM buses had a number of features that weren’t common to other Toronto buses. These included tinted windows, standee passenger windows, a single stream rear door, and a turbo charged engine. The buses were also equipped with a wheelchair lift for accessibility, but this was not used during their brief visit to the TTC. The Utah buses relied on linen rollsigns, but the TTC chose not to install these, as they’d abandoned rollsigns for electronic displays two years before. Instead, the rollsign displays remained empty, and window cards were used to indicate a bus’s route and destination.

The Utah buses were sent to Malvern, Arrow Road and Birchmount garages and served Torontonians for six months. By April, the bus shortage had eased, and the TTC ended the lease. The Utah Transit Authority then shipped off a number of these buses to Quebec City and Brantford, where many finished their careers.

Utah Leased Buses Image Archive